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Indigenous Justice

Learn more on the Centre for Public Dialogue website.

Reflections for National Truth and Reconciliation Day

September 30th 2021 marks the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation in Canada.  It coincides with Orange Shirt Day, a grassroots commemoration marked by the wearing of Orange Shirts for children forced to leave their families and attend residential schools.  

Talking in Circle

Hearts Exchanged is a perfect name for the program I was privileged to participate in this past year.  Instead of a purely intellectual exercise about Indigenous people and the church in Canada, this was a meeting of hearts and souls.  Real learning and listening took place. It was a laying out of beliefs and understandings.  Sharing of first person accounts. Gentle correction. Encouragement. Pledges to do better and ideas for how to do so in real and meaningful ways. 

Why I Write

A few years back, I sat at the feet of my oldest surviving Aunt. It was a family gathering and nearly everyone had gone home, only a few stragglers remained. My aunt sipped a beer and I waited for the reticence to fall away before posing my question. “Aunty, can you tell us about the residential schools?” I asked in a low steady voice. She sipped on her beer and glanced down at me, “they were okay.” 

“...but Aunty, I worked at the Truth and Reconciliation hearings. I heard all the stories...” my voice tapered off. 

Putting Truth & Reconciliation into Action with Leah Gazan and Steve Henirichs

This episode two guests--Leah Gazan, Member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre and Steve Heinrichs, Director of Indigenous-Settler Relations of Mennonite Church Canada-- join host Chris Orme. Leah and Steve share the story of how they connected, where their work both overlaps and is unique to their respective identities as indigenous and white settler, and ways folks can participate in enacting the resolutions established in the passing of United Nation Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

Laughing Ceremony for the Soul

There are Indigenous rituals and traditions in the Americas that might alarm the Christian white Euro-centric culture that are not involved or aware of the history and cultural aspects surrounding them. There is nothing wrong with having culture and customs per say. However, I have seen where some ceremonies clash with the word of God and many of them become unsavory salt amongst the salted disciples. Christian Indigenous leaders must discern the parts of our culture which lead us away from God but also those which will benefit our spiritual walk.

Violently Spiritual

A few years ago, my friend organized a protest at the shelter he was staying at. His protest concerned the use of sermons to wake up shelter participants. While he is a follower of Jesus, he is also a victim of the residential school system which had used sermons to destroy his people. The protest was peaceful and I joined the round dance he had organized during a community meal. 

The Emotions of Hearts Exchanged

I had the great fortune this past year to be invited to join the first cohort of Hearts Exchanged. I knew going into it that I would learn some new things, and that some of these things might be unpleasant. What I didn’t expect was that I would feel so many different things along the way. 

Reckoning: A Prayer for Settler Christians

It has been a difficult month.  The recovery of unmarked graves near former Indian Residential School sites in Kamloops in BC, Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan, and Cranbrook, BC has prompted anger, sorrow, and soul-searching across Turtle Island and – because of international news coverage – around the world.  Indigenous Peoples in Canada have been vocal in reminding settler Canadians that the finding of these graves should not come as a surprise: their own testimonies gave witness to their likelihood, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action #71-76

Guilty Canadian Citizenship

During a casual conversation between my daughter and I on a field watching her younger brother in a soccer lesson, she asked me what my favourite sport was. My reply was, “cycling”, and I continued, “...because that’s the only one I was allowed to and encouraged to try when I was a kid.” She, a Canadian citizen, who at the tender age of eleven has already attended a variety of sport and leisure camps, didn’t understand my response. What I meant was that I grew up in a country and culture where children weren’t valued as individuals or seen as contributing citizens.

A Kingdom of Belonging

Amidst the wildfire of a movement that Black Lives Matter brought, Canadians were pushed to confront their colonial history and their treatment of marginalized communities, myself included. This past year and a half has been heavy. Heavy with grief and uncertainty. Heavy with shame. Heavy with responsibility. In the heaviness of it all, I am learning to hold it in sacred space. To lament. To sit with it. To experience it and to relate to others who experience it as well. 

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